Response 3: Arguments for Environmental Conservation
Since the beginning of civilization humanity has adopted a subjugating stance toward nature. Ecological exploitation has become the de facto standard, contributing to the illusion of self-subsistence provided by modern society. This mindset is untenable given humanities reliance on the natural world, as best demonstrated by the critical importance of various parts of the environment to humanities continued existence. This includes the importance of biodiversity to medicinal advancement and climate adaptation, the role of insects in the renewal of the biosphere, and the importance of the environment for humanities psychological health.
A huge number of modern medicines are derived from chemicals found in nature. For instance, treatments for childhood leukemia and Hodgkin’s disease have been made treatable by the rosy periwinkle found in Madagascar. (31) Still other plants and animal species have made it possible to conduct organ transplants and to prevent blood clots following surgery. (31) Biodiversity also plays a role in safeguarding food sources other than grains. When the pastureland critical to Australia’s animal husbandry was threatened by uncontrolled cactus growth, salvation came in the form of an American tropical moth. (31)
In addition, biodiversity will be crucial for humanities continued survival in the case of climate change or widespread crop failures. The majority of people on earth are reliant on four crops for subsistence; wheat, rice, corn, and millet. (11) These crops are threatened by climate change and the spread of disease facilitated by modern transportation. If humanity is to survive such an eventuality it must be ready to draw upon the earth’s biodiversity for replacements. And while there are approximately 50 thousand plant species that could offer alternatives, this bank of resources is quickly thinning as various ecosystems are being destroyed. (11)
Other services nature provides are more easily taken...